Label Your Own . . .

"That is best which is capable of producing the greatest degree of happiness."
--George Mason

Just as each of us has chosen our own unique style of living on a day-to-day basis, we may also choose the degree of celebrating Christmas from season to season. Freedom can be found in the fact that each year need not mirror the last. Your choices may reflect your current attitude, your financial situation, or both. Regardless of the circumstances that guide your decision, the realization that YOU HOLD THE POWER to choose how you will celebrate the holidays will free you from the frenzied pace that tends to hover over most of us this time of year.
I've experienced lavish holidays during which I decorated each nook and cranny of our home. The fresh evergreen wreaths, that embellished nearly every window of our house, were peppered with fresh red roses (set in small water-filled florist' vials). Each gift was a carefully thought out, sought out, and accomplished masterpiece. Perfectly packaged and ceremoniously delivered. I happily (and voluntarily ) expended tremendous amounts of energy (not to mention money) to celebrate every facet of the holiday season in a detailed fashion.

That being said, what are we, as Shakespeare reminds us, if not human ? Other years present larger than usual limitations on what we can accomplish, such as restraints on time, energy, enthusiasm, or finances. But even during less lavish celebrations I continue to moderately decorate the house and give gifts. However, the decorations are few and well chosen, the gifts tend more toward the practical (think gift certificates, cash, or hurriedly ordered items from online) and humbly packaged. There have even been years in which, foregoing my semi-perfectionism, I succumbed to the pleas of my young children to let them help wrap. Their small hands jubilantly performed this task (so dreaded by me, at the time) and the results were charmingly imperfect.

Do you wish to celebrate more simply this year? If so, it's perfectly permissible to say to your family "This Christmas we will be doing things a bit different from last season." (Or your own variation thereof.) Once this announcement has been made -- and the kids reassured that you aren't identifying too strongly with Ebenezer Scrooge-- you may feel that a tremendous pressure has been lifted from you. Consequently, you might discover that you have a renewed joy in the seasonal tasks that you are performing. Why? Possibly because you do not feel quite so obligated to perform them. (There's that free will aspect again.)

The material things of this world, when used properly, are good. Yet, there is a time for temperance and a time for luxury (and a time to blend the two). Most of us bow to family or cultural pressures, forgetting that we have the power, and the responsibility, to choose the degree of celebration that is right for us and our families — at this particular season of life. Keep in mind, however, that lifestyles, attitudes, and circumstances can change over time. Declare this to your family and yourself so that you may peacefully, without remorse, alternate your celebrating style from one year to the next, whatever degree it may be. The choice is yours.